Jobs for May

I thought I had everything under control this year. The plot was tidy, I had my seeds ready and I completed all my winter projects. However, we are now in May and I’m wondering where the hell the year is going. April flew by for me, I was busy with various projects at work, and so I didn’t have a chance to spend much time down the plot.

I come to sow some seeds during the week but couldn’t find them anywhere on the plot. I’ve either thrown them out when cleaning the sheds or left them out and someone has pinched them. So instead of worrying and having to order seeds in, I’ve decided to buy most of my veg plants this year.

I suppose not having to look after tiny seedlings, allows me to get a few more jobs done before the task of daily watering and weeding starts in summer.

Urgent

  • Sort out my grapevine – The frame I grow my grapevine up was badly damaged last autumn due to the strong winds. Although it’s no longer falling down, I still need to strengthen it before it’s too late.
  • Prepare the sweetcorn and squash bed – I’ve kinda forgotten about this bed. It needs weeding and a good tidy as it became a dumping ground over winter.
  • Tidy the greenhouse ready for my tomatoes

Needs doing – within the next couple of weeks

  • Sort out the strawberry bed – I grow my strawberries in a raised bed/vegtrug. I struggled to keep them watered last summer, so I want to sort out a proper irrigation system for them (even if I just use water bottles with holes in them to allow water to be slowly released throughout the day to help keep the soil damp)
  • Wash and clean the greenhouse
  • Sharpen and oil my tools

No doubt there’s something I’ve forgot…

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A morning down the plot

I managed to get an hour down the plot this morning with the aim to plant out my remaining onions. I planted out a load of them at the beginning of April but I purposely didn’t plant out one tray, as I’ve had problems with birds pecking the tops off them. Fortunately, they’ve left them alone this year, so I should have a decent harvest from them come summer time.

I’ve been growing my onions from sets for years. I did try growing them from seed a couple of years ago, but germination was extremely poor, so I’ve grown them from sets ever since. I simply plant the sets into seed trays, grow them in the greenhouse until they are around 6 inches tall, and then move them to my cold frame for a month or two.

While having a walk around the plot, I noticed how much the weeds have grown since last weeks rain. Fortunately, my Oscillating Hoe made short work of them. If you haven’t got yourself an Oscillating Hoe, I highly recommend you get one, I find it a lot more effective at dealing with the weeds. It cuts the weeds beneath the soil level where they are most vulnerable.

I’m going to leave you with a photo of the plot looking from the shed.

Until next time…

View of allotment from my shed
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Easter BBQ down the allotment

Things have been a little hectic recently. I’ve had a lot of work on recently that’s taken most of my time up, so my time down the allotment has been rather limited. I’m hoping to get down there this bank holiday weekend as the list of jobs is piling up. That said, on Easter Sunday, myself and the other allotment committee members, held a volunteer morning followed by a BBQ in the afternoon.

For as long as I can remember, the allotment association has always held volunteer mornings a couple of times a year to help keep the communal areas nice and tidy. This was the first one we organised since been voted in as committee, so we wanted to get a lot done.

It was a great morning, we managed to get the portacabin painted, weeded the communal flower beds and also tidied around the compost bays. We had an excellent turn out too and everyone got stuck in.

The afternoon BBQ was a great success too. We had an egg hunt for the kids, egg painting competition and various raffles. I’m looking forward to our summer gathering.

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Things are in motion

I finished work early today to try and get down the plot for an hour. It felt nice to get down after work to be honest. My aim for today was to plant out my first early potatoes which I bought back in January from a local garden center, and like every single year, I cannot remember the variety. D’oh!!!!!

Planting potatoes

Most of the seed potatoes were either shrivelled up or really small. To be honest, I think I left them too long on the window sill and I should have really planted them a couple of weeks ago. Oh well.

I’ve still got my main crop of potatoes to plant out, which again, I can’t remember the variety (I do it all the time). These will go in within the next couple of weeks after I’ve finished preparing the bed.

While I was at it, I also planted out half my onion plants. I’ll give it a week before planting out the rest, the birds have a habit of pecking off the tops of the plants, so I don’t want to lose the entire crop. These were a bargain, 80 onion sets for £1 from a local DIY store back in January. I wish I picked up a couple of more bags to be honest. Oh well….

Onions
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End of the season

So last years growing season has come to an end, I harvested the last of my leeks this week. I’m a huge fan of leeks, sow at the beginning of the year, plant out when they are pencil thick and you can just leave them to themselves.

Harvesting my leeks

I wanted to do something simple with them, so I boiled the leeks until soft and served them with chicken and butter. Yum!!!!!

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Signs of growth

I popped down to the allotment this morning to feed the chickens and noticed signs of growth everywhere. It feels like spring is early this year, I hope we don’t get a really cold spell (Beast from the East last year).

I snapped a couple of photos while down there. Enjoy!

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Harvesting forced rhubarb

Yesterday I picked my first rhubarb of the year. This is the first time I’ve tried forcing rhubarb and after sampling some yesterday evening, it’ll be something I’ll be doing every year. It was extremely tender and sweet.

Forcing rhubarb

Forcing rhubarb is easy to do. All you need is a large pot, dustbin or you can even get Rhubarb Forcing Pots. I personally used an old dustbin. I simply covered the crown about 6 weeks ago, excluding all light and popped a couple of bricks over the dustbin to stop it blowing away.

I’ll harvest a couple of more stems over the next couple of weeks and then remove the dustbin to let the plant recover over the summer.

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Extending the Velociraptor Cage

I keep a flock of 12 chickens on my allotment and I often refer to them as my dinosaurs. I feel like Chris Pratt in Jurassic World when he’s training the raptors every time I enter the chicken pen 🤣

Anyway, yesterday, we spent the morning extending the pen so they’ve got more room. In fact, the pen now takes roughly a quarter of the plot.

I managed to get my hands on some heras fencing and some netting for the top, and I have to say, it’s given them so much more room.

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Spring is in the air

Greenhouse thermometer

As I type this, it’s currently 16C in late February. It certainly feels like Spring is in the air. I popped down the allotment today to collect any eggs and top up the drinking water for the chickens. I checked the greenhouse and the thermometer was showing almost 30C inside!

I also noticed the onions have put on a lot of growth over the last couple of days. I’ll give it a couple of more weeks before I move them outside into the coldframe. To be honest, I wish I bought more. I went to B&Q a couple of weeks ago and picked up 80 sets. The price tag was showing £3 for the pack, but it wasn’t until I got back home, that I realised they went through the till for £1. Bargain!

I’m going to leave you with one photo that I took as I was leaving. The colour on the crocuses was amazing. Spring is just around the corner folks.

crocus flowers
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First Post – About me

Some of this can be found in my about page, but I thought I would introduce myself properly. My name is Steve and I live in the West Midlands, England. I’m self-employed working in the IT industry. When I’m not at my office or working, I can be found either down my allotment, down the gym or enjoying the outdoors.

I must point out, my spelling and grammar isn’t the best. In fact I left school unable to read and write.

Allotment and Gardening

My interest in gardening started at an early age when my dad allowed me to have a small patch of ground behind the shed in his garden. I mainly grew nasturtiums and marigolds that would get devoured by caterpillars every summer. After moving house and not having the room in the new garden, I lost interest in gardening, until I moved into my own flat in 2012. Within a couple of months of moving into my own place, I managed to get my hands on a small allotment measuring 12 metres by 5 and my interest in gardening was sparked again.

After a couple of years, I managed to get myself a much larger plot and gave up the smaller allotment. I now have a large allotment plot within walking distance of my flat, and I grow a variety of fruit and vegetables, and also keep a flock of chickens.

I’ve recently took on the Chairman role for the site.

Other Stuff

Away from my allotment, I’m self-employed working in the IT industry. I run SJH Computing, specialising in IT support for home and small business customers.

I also enjoy the outdoors in general, so I may will be posting about my adventures. I’m a lover of food, so again, I will be posting about it 🙂

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